My latest newspaper column:
I thought it might be overlooked in the morass, but Mike Pence pointed to it as “one of the better moments of the debate.” Trump’s henchpeople in the audience whooped and hollered their unbridled (and, one would hope, thoughtless) approval. Their campaign manager called it a great night for democracy. What they were celebrating was the reincarnation of Joseph Stalin and his gulags.
And I’d thought the worst moment of the night would be when Trump held a pre-debate news conference with women who claim to have been abused by the spouse of his opponent. Or when he repeated the Foxilimbeckojonesan lie about Hillary Clinton laughing at a rape victim, now sitting next to him, to whose case the courts had assigned her. The lie is Trumpic on many levels, not the least of which is rejecting a mainstay of the American system of justice: the right of the accused to a fair trial and effective counsel. Never mind that the truth, as usual, is entirely different from Trump’s massive falsehood.
Donald Trump thinks, as do his followers, the “I know you are but what am I” defense is how to deal with his admission of being a sexual predator; and, evidently, he believes he’s diminishing Hillary by mentioning her husband’s infidelities. But if it does say something about her, it says the same about his own wife. (You may choose up to three.) And, for the record, had he used another p-word, say, pudendum, it wouldn’t have made the revelation any less sordid. Because it’s not his words. It’s his bragging about acts which, if adjudicated, would require that he register as a sex offender.
But there I just went, distracted by the enormous vulgarity of the man, at the expense of his much more disturbing inclination toward tyranny, and the enthusiasm with which his followers embrace it.
This is the Donald Trump about whom I and everyone else who’s paying attention have been warning: the one who’d undertake to jail his political opponent if he wins the election. The one who’d emulate the worst despots, past and present; the one to whom the future of the country is less important – so much so that it doesn’t register with him at all – than the coddling of his own disturbed ego. He’d round up and jail his opponent. (Why even bother with the “special prosecutor,” Trump? You’ve already announced the outcome.) And they cheered. Polluted by decades of propagandizing, they cheered, exhuberently, the end of democracy, the burying of our Constitution under the weight of deliberate and undeniably effective endumbification. They cheered it like a Wilson to Baldwin touchdown.
Because, according to the vision that was planted in their brains, the system is so corrupt we must destroy it to save it (Vietnam reference). It justifies electing a vindictive, power-hungry, lying, know-nothing claimer of knowing everything. It justifies cheering for the imprisonment of political opponents. Cheering in the certainty it’d never be them in the boxcars, because they are, after all, white, Christian, native-born patriots (assuming patriotism includes hating everything else about our country, including most of its people and, definitely, its legal system.) They cheered. Couldn’t help themselves. Dreaming of vengeance, of watching others suffer hard justice that cometh from an almighty personal savior, ceding all power to him, they cheered. Enraptured, grateful for the first coming of Donald Trump, they cheered. (Okay, bad metaphor: nothing about Donald Trump is remotely like Jesus. Which broaches a mystery for another time.)
Faced with deciding whether or not to prosecute his predecessors Dick and George for what were, by definition, war crimes, President Obama chose not to, sparing his country and the world the divisive spectacle, not to mention learning the depth of the atrocities, only now being revealed, committed in our names. In that case, the criminality was obvious. In Hillary’s, millions of dollars and wasted hours spent kangarooing her have not led to criminal charges. So Trump and his still-faithful proposed punishment by assumption, by conspiracy theory, by dictatorial fiat. Stomping on the Constitution, waving the flag and shouting USA, USA, USA!
And it was the p-word that was too much for Paul Ryan (kind of) and John McCain.[Image source]